By Chad Waller, Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the 10th-straight time, Concordia (Calif.) holds the No. 1 position in the preseason edition of the 2014 NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, announced by the national office Tuesday. A year removed from their first-ever NAIA National Championship, the Eagles welcome back two NAIA All-Americans, Caitrin Debaun (2013) and Jenna Jorgenson (2012), from a club that went 52-3 in 2013. NAIA Coach of the Year Crystal Rosenthal and Concordia are scheduled to play their first game of the year on Feb. 1 against Southern Oregon.
With 20-of-the-21 first-place votes, Concordia posted 591 total points. The Eagles have now been ranked in the top 10 in each of the last 21 polls.
The defending national runner-up, Spring Hill (Ala.), sits in the No. 2 spot with 572 total points. The Badgers corralled the remaining first-place vote. Sophomore pitcher Caroline Sagrera returns after earning NAIA First Team All-America status and leading all levels of college softball last year with 482 strikeouts.
Moving up two spots, No. 3 Oklahoma City holds its highest ranking since No. 2 on May 29, 2012. The Stars stand with 543 total points.
No. 4 Williams Baptist (Ark.) tallied 535 total points, while Reinhardt (Ga.) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) tied in the No. 5 position with 499 points.
No. 13 College of Idaho claims the most improvement within the Top 25 -- a six-spot leap. The Lady Yotes look to continue the success they had at the end of the 2013 season as they won 15-of-16 games to earn a berth into the Cascade Collegiate Conference Tournament.
No. 15 (tie) Oklahoma Baptist headlines the list of four newcomers in the preseason installment. The Bison are ranked for the first time since earning the No. 25 spot on May 3, 2011. OBU returns 49 of its school-record 62 home runs from a team that went 33-23 last season. The other rookies to the poll, No. 18 Concordia (Ore.), No. 23 Central Methodist (Mo.) and No. 25 Oregon Tech were all ranked at least once during the 2013 campaign.
The Southern States Athletic Conference hails the most Top 25 mentions with five teams: Spring Hill, No. 7 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), No. 9 Belhaven (Miss.), No. 17 Brenau (Ga.) and No. 21 William Carey (Miss.). The American Midwest Conference, Cascade Collegiate Conference and Sooner Athletic Conference each claim three ranked teams.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences /independent /unaffiliated groupings. The first regular-season Top 25 will be announced on March 18.
For the complete calendar of 2014 Top 25 Polls, click here.
Notes: (all information dating back to 2000) The 10-straight No. 1 rankings for Concordia (Calif.) is the longest stretch for any program since former member California Baptist rattled through 24-consecutive polls from 2009 - 11… Concordia is trying to become the first team to hold the Preseason No. 1 ranking and win the national championship in the same season -- since Oklahoma City in 2002... Concordia has now held the No. 1 position in 16 of the last 18 polls dating back to the 2012 season… Last season, two programs held the top ranking: Concordia and Cal State San Marcos... There were 36 different teams ranked in the Top 25 in 2013… No. 3 Oklahoma City leads all active schools with 92-straight rankings, falling no lower than 18th during that stretch, which dates back to start of 2004 season; No. 21 William Carey (Miss.) is second with 55-consecutive mentions and No. 1 Concordia is right behind at 46-straight polls… Since 2000, 11 teams have topped the polls: Concordia, Cal State San Marcos, California Baptist, former member Lubbock Christian (Texas), Mobile (Ala.), Oklahoma Baptist, Oklahoma City, Oregon Tech, former NAIA member Simon Fraser (B.C.), former member Shorter (Ga.) and Thomas (Ga.)… California Baptist leads the way with 46 all-time No. 1 appearances, followed by Oklahoma City with 20, Simon Fraser with 18, Concordia with 16, Thomas with 13, Mobile with five and Lubbock Christian with four.
2014 NAIA Softball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 21)
|RANK||LAST WEEK^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Concordia (Calif.) (20)||52-3||591|
|2||2||Spring Hill (Ala.) (1)||49-17||572|
|4||4||Williams Baptist (Ark.)||46-9||535|
|T5||7||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||50-9||499|
|7||8||Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)||45-12||480|
|8||9||Cal State San Marcos||43-12||468|
|10||15||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||48-9||390|
|11||14||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||50-10||384|
|12||11||USC Beaufort (S.C.)||43-6||369|
|13||19||College of Idaho||36-23||354|
|19||16||St. Gregory's (Okla.)||35-17||215|
|21||25||William Carey (Miss.)||34-18||189|
|23||RV||Central Methodist (Mo.)||35-12||172|
Others receiving votes: Indiana Southeast 123; Corban (Ore.) 60; Campbellsville (Ky.) 56; Davenport (Mich.) 55; Vanguard (Calif.) 54; Marian (Ind.) 53; Mobile (Ala.) 51; Central Baptist (Ark.) 32; William Woods (Mo.) 20; Virginia Intermont 15; Simpson (Calif.) 12; Columbia (Mo.) 7; Bethel (Ind.) 7; Grand View (Iowa) 5; LSU Alexandria 3.
^ Ranking from June 5, 2013 (2013 Postseason Top 25)